Black Friday Weekend Vegas Recap

I spent Thanksgiving alone.

Well, minus the dog.

While that may sound sad, the reality is that Spouse lovingly took the kids to celebrate with his family – a three hour road trip each way – and left me behind so that I could wake up bright and early on Black Friday for a weekend girls’ trip with my friends J. and B.

Thanksgiving for me included gym time, dog walking, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, online shopping, wearing zero makeup, packing my bag and Chicago-style pizza.

J., B. and I met up the next morning and celebrated the start of the weekend in the airport lounge.

Pure happiness, I tell you.

Our rooms at the Cosmopolitan Hotel had amazing views.

First stop:

When I heard about this new bar at Caesar’s, I wanted to go. While Dame Lisa herself was not there, the cocktails did not disappoint.

We just missed the transition from fall-to-winter with the Bellagio floral displays.

There were roses treated to have a metallic effect:

The holidays were in full swing at Tiffany:

This tiny diorama was a window display:

I did a wee bit of personal shopping.

Other highlights of the weekend included brunch at Giada, truffle nachos (!!!) at Ghost Donkey – a secret speakeasy hidden within the Cosmopolitan, the bawdy stage show “Opium,” and some really excellent spa treatments at the Spa at the Cosmopolitan.

This was my first stay at the Cosmopolitan, and I will be back. The hotel gym was top notch, as was the spa and the myriad dining options. The fountain views from our balcony rooms were arguably better than the Bellagio’s. We had room service and the menu was both extensive and exactly what we wanted when we wanted it.

Only complaint: the weekend passed too quickly.

Cheers, Vegas! See you next time.

Las Vegas Trip Report, Part 4

Final installment, I swear!

(Part three is here).

The last thing we did during our Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas racecation weekend was visit the Spa at the Bellagio.

We didn’t book appointments before we arrived and were fortunate to secure them, although for a while it looked like we might not. Next time, I would book my appointments far in advance, especially for the busy hours of 9-11 AM.

In the end, the three of us were able to have facials and massages.

The Spa at the Bellagio is huge.

When they were checking us in and leading us back to the waiting area, I could see a list on a clipboard of all the people who had appointments at 9 AM, and it was a full page.

The robes, slippers and lockers were pretty standard. In the changing area, there was fresh carrot juice (I did not try; B. liked it and J. said it was gross), lemon and ginger water, tea, coffee and bottled water.

The waiting area for massages had about 15 people in it while we were there, and I did not like the fact that men and women were in the same area. There were some guys who did not seem to have their robes secured very well, and these were not the kind of guys you would want to see with their robes undone.

Fortunately, this part of the visit was brief and we could silently roll our eyes at each other while avoiding direct views of the unpleasantry.

I had booked a standard facial but changed to an anti-aging one when I got back to the room. The products were from a professional Elizabeth Arden line. I thought they were fine.

What was really amazing was the lip balm that they applied at the end. Over the course of the weekend, my lips went from dry to parched to raisin-like to peel-y. The combination of dry desert air and dehydration, plus licking my lips constantly during the race even though I know I should not do this was too much. Once the facial was done, I inquired about the balm and learned it was this brand.


From what I can tell, What’s Your Virtue gloss is such a small company that they don’t have a website, but there is an outdated blog from 2014 I found. How the Bellagio chose this brand is a mystery, but I bought the clear gloss and I absolutely love it. This turned my dry lips around in less than 24 hours. The price was $12.

The second appointment I had was a 50 minute massage. Especially after a race, I would prefer a deep tissue massage to work out the knots, but hotel spas are – IMHO – notoriously light on the pressure. The technician I had was somewhere in the middle, so I was ok with that.

There seemed to be quite a few people who had already checked out of the hotel and had their luggage with them when we got back to the locker room. This is a reasonable strategy if you have an afternoon or evening flight (one I have used many times), because you can shower and get ready to go home after your appointment at the spa. For reference, the Spa at the Bellagio had many private rainfall showers, shampoo/conditioner/shower gel, oversized towels, and the standard things (combs, hair dryers, hair products, aerosol deodorant) that you would need. If you had an abundance of free time, you could also use hot tubs, steam showers and a sauna in the women’s only locker area. We did not have an abundance of time so we did not.

Sadly, then it was time to go to the airport.

We did.

The flight home was uneventful.

My final thoughts: I had a blast. J. and B. are super fun travel companions. The three of us had actually already been to Las Vegas for a long weekend over Memorial Day, so this was a familiar trip. I liked the fact that we could offset some of the calories with running. The two trips were different, though, so I am not sure if one was better than the other.

How does the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon compare to other races? As I said previously, the course is flat and fast. This is great. The night start is unique, as is running on the Strip. I have only done two Rock ‘n’ Roll races (the other was Dublin in 2015), and overall I think I like the organization of Run Disney races better (signage, water stops, corral placement). Having said that, I’ve done worse races, too. I would do this again. If you can swing it, I’d also strongly recommend adding the VIP package, even if just for the eagle eye view of the finish line at the post-race party.

How about the medals? These were solid, heavy and quite interesting. I forgot to mention earlier that since we did both the 5k and the half marathon, we got a third medal for completing a “Remix Challenge.” Some 5k medals are flimsy, but even this one was substantial. The half and Remix medals had spinning elements. (See below).

Would I change anything? This is a hard one to answer.

  • I definitely would have done a better job with pre-race fueling.
  • We didn’t get to try as many excellent restaurants as the first visit (including Mr. Chow and Giada’s) since we had the pre-race party one night and room service another.
  • We didn’t get any pool time (although that was mostly temperature related; it was in the low 70s and we could have gone to the pool but decided not to).
  • On the plus side, I burned off a lot of calories and didn’t feel quite so gluttonous on my way out of town despite having an excellent cookie/brownie/cupcake/cannoli from Carlo’s Bakery, and there were the Meb sightings and Snoop Dogg.

So there’s that.

And this guy came home with us:











Las Vegas Trip Report, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, read it here).

So, to catch you up: last weekend I went to Las Vegas for a racecation with two of my fabulous girlfriends.

After our mild debauchery on Friday night (Sub-G Rated by Vegas standards), we were moving somewhat ssslllooooowwwly on Saturday morning.

We ended up heading for brunch at Mon Ami Gabi – a popular faux-French bistro in the Paris hotel – at 11 AM.

We were seated at a well-positioned terrace table and let the caffeine kick in. 

And in. And in.

We waited a long time, maybe 40 minutes, for our order to arrive. The server apologized for the kitchen being slow.


Frankly, I didn’t mind. It was a beautiful day. I was laughing with my friends. The people watching was excellent.

When the meal arrived, it was mediocre. I was really hungry by then, so I ate anyway.


We all agreed that the overall experience was disappointing. On a scale of 1-10, we gave it a two.

But then something unexpected happened that totally turned it around. The manager came over to our table and said this:

Ladies, I need this table for a large party. If you would be willing to leave now, I’ll pick up your check.

Who says nothing is free in Vegas?

We were out of there so fast that there were smoke streams.

Brunch experience now elevated to at least an 8.

We decided to do some shopping and walk off the calories. What really caught my eye were the Alexander McQueen “Obsession” print pieces that I saw in several stores.

Wow. These were stunning.

This collection was new to me and I was honestly a bit dizzy thinking about how much I wanted this bag:


I resisted, but barely.

Here are some of the other McQueen styles that I was longing for:

img_0966 img_0965

The above dress was long-sleeved, sleek and absolutely gorgeous. The charms were all individually sewn onto it. I think the retail was about $6000. This was at Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall.

This blouse ($1200) was also exquisite:


I tried to buy a scarf with the print, but it was sold out in the Alexander McQueen boutique. Fortunately (Unfortunately?), I discovered it is available online.

Our final stop was Carlo’s Bakery, which is operated by “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro. 

We briefly contemplated bailing since there was a 20+ person queue, but in the end we decided to stay.

And we were so glad we did.

I bought a brownie, a cookie, a cupcake and a cannoli. They were all gone by the time I boarded the flight home.

We headed back to get ready for the 5k race and took the monorail to the SLS Hotel, which is at the far end of the Strip near the Stratosphere. It was slow going to the race. I glanced at my watch and noted that it was almost exactly an hour to get from Point A to Point B.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas 5k started at 6 PM on Saturday night. There were 8200+ runners.

The course was dark, narrow and crowded. It was a boring out-and-back loop. Part of it was on a track. I felt like I was running in a high school track meet, albeit a really crowded one.

The first half mile was so crowded that I was boxed in, an experience I do not enjoy.

I started bobbing and weaving and was able to occasionally make some space to stretch out.

I wish I would have kept my mile splits but I didn’t. I would estimate that the first mile was around 10 minutes with the crowding.

Once I found some space, a competitive drive kicked in and I put the pedal down. My pre-race cupcake and cannoli fuel seemed to be working for me, so I went with it.

As I neared the finish line, I saw Meb Keflezighi for a second time that weekend. He was giving out high fives at the finish line and I was lucky enough to get one! I was so happy.

My finish time was 27:56, which placed me at 923/8249 overall and 307/5297 for women.

I was ok with that. I immediately forgot that I didn’t like the course and mentally registered for next year’s race.

The finish area was crowded, but I eventually met up with J. and B. We reversed our monorail trip back to the hotel, showered and headed to a sushi dinner at Yellowtail.

I wish I would have taken photos of the meal, but I was too busy eating. Everything.

It’s a bit fuzzy (we were also drinking wine), but we ordered:

  • Shishito peppers (a standing favorite among the three of us; these were excellent)
  • Edamame
  • Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño (Unanimously voted best dish)
  • Popping spicy crab roll (This was nuts. I could have eaten two more on my own).
  • Mile High Roll
  • Uni Truffle pasta

And guess who we saw eating there? Yep, Meb Keflezighi.

Next up: Half-marathon and VIP post-race party.








Bringing My Style to Las Vegas

Recently I posted about my upcoming trip to Las Vegas and how I wanted to represent myself there, style-wise.

And today’s the day! We’re off for a weekend of (hopefully massive) fun and (minimal) debauchery.

The itinerary looks like this:

  • Friday: Travel, race packet pick-up and running expo, pre-race party Friday night
  • Saturday: Brunch, pool, maybe leisurely shopping in the early afternoon, 5k race late afternoon, dinner
  • Sunday: Sleep, pool, rest, pre-race concert in late afternoon and half marathon starting in early evening, after party (although this is reportedly pretty tame since it’s populated by a group of people who just spent 2+ hours running)
  • Monday: Breakfast, airport, home

Here’s what I decided to pack.

Friday (travel): Lole pants, Splendid striped shirt, perforated booties and a blazer that I got from Evereve for $148 but mimics the style of Veronica Beard. I’m bringing a favorite scarf in my personal bag, which is a Rebecca Minkoff backpack.


This is what the Veronica Beard blazer looks like. The sweatshirt collar is faux and can be removed with buttons. It creates a cool layered look without the bulk. The knock-off I bought is eerily similar. I wish the Evereve website had a picture, but all I have is the one above for now.


Photo via Nordstrom



For the pre-race party on Friday night, I’m wearing a black dolman sleeve top, my new Banana Republic dark wash ankle jeans, a Kendra Scott necklace, the perforated booties, and a cross-body bag. I’m bringing a J. Crew Downtown Field Jacket to wear if needed. Temps are supposedly ranging between the mid-50s and high 70s.

I’m not sure what my daytime wear will be on Saturday and Sunday, but I’m packing one pair of cut-off shorts, a favorite tee (old from Kate Spade), and chambray shirt, and a dressier short sleeved olive top from the Gap to give me options.



This crochet fringe top from the Gap is made from a thin sweater material. It’s really pretty. The fit is a bit oversized, though, so size down if you try this. I got it on sale and had a hard time deciding between olive – a color I am suddenly really into – and white, so I got both and am happy I did.

For the pool, I’ll bring one swimsuit and a bright Lilly Pulitzer cover-up, plus sandals.

After the 5k race on Saturday night, I’m falling back to an old favorite. I’m wearing black ankle length pants and a sleeveless gray cowl neck sweater from the Holiday 2012 collection from Banana Republic (practically vintage!), along with pointy ankle boots and silver fringe earrings. If it’s cool, I’ll wear the blazer. Even though this outfit is old, it’s tried and true and I know I will feel comfortable and like my best self in it.


Obviously for two races, I’m bringing two running outfits. I haven’t fully decided which one will be worn in which race yet. In case the night is cool, I can opt between a tank or long-sleeved shirt to wear with my new Gap tights, and I also brought a half-zip pullover (also Gap) to ward off post-running chill. Being sweaty and then cold is terrible.


Sunday’s day outfits are going to look a lot like Saturday. For Sunday night, I’ll either wear the chambray shirt or a soft gray sweater with the (now recycled) black pants. I panicked and also added a sleeveless black rayon top with faux leather trim in case we end up doing something fancier than I expect.

Monday’s travel outfit will be recycled or unworn items.

For my shoe game, I’m bringing four pairs: perforated boots, pointy boots, sandals and running shoes. I’d like to get it down to three, but even though I like to travel light, I can’t agree to wear my running shoes in any other context not involving exercise.

For this trip, I’d give myself a packing score of B. It’s too soon to tell, but I probably overpacked by bringing a blazer PLUS a jacket, a sweater (which I am not sure I’ll wear but wanted in case it was over air conditioned in the hotel), three pairs of pants (probably the jeans and black pants would have sufficed) PLUS shorts, and the chambray shirt. I think I did well with editing my shoes. I decided to bring two pairs of booties because they are quite different in tone; the pointy ones are much dressier than the casual perforated pair. Ditto on bringing just a backpack and a cross-body bag, especially since bags are a huge weakness of mine and I own too many.

I’ll post a trip report when we return. Have a great weekend!



What’s Not Me

A few nights ago I was mentally preparing a packing list for an upcoming trip to Las Vegas with my friends J. and B.

We’re going there to run two races over the course of the weekend: a 5k on Saturday night and a half-marathon on Sunday night.

Running clothes, check. I’m not sure what the temps will be (desert nights can get cold, after all), but I’ve got plenty of options already in my drawer.

But it’s the other part of Vegas – the nightlife – that always leaves me confused.

These same friends and I were already in Vegas over Memorial Day weekend, and in the end I felt like I’d packed all wrong.

For going out to dinner the first night, I packed a jumpsuit. From Old Navy. It did not look right at all, especially because I paired it with a weird striped coat.


Image Via Old Navy

For brunching, walking around and shopping the next day, I ended up wearing a pink 3/4 sleeve top from Stitch Fix and an old black skirt from the Gap. It was serviceable, but not exactly cool.

At the pool, I felt self-conscious in my Athleta tankini. The striped sleeveless dress I brought as a cover-up also seemed wrong.

By the second night, I ditched my plans to wear a bright Lilly Pulitzer dress in favor of a black top with black pants. This was the only outfit that felt like me, and I had a great time that night without tugging at anything or worrying about the top half of my jumpsuit falling into a toilet bowl.

A recent post on a blog I love, Unfancy, shared thoughts about packing and dressing in Las Vegas. Here’s a direct quote from the blog:


It screams sparkles, stilettos, and body-con dresses.

But I’m not really a sparkles, stilettos, or body-con dress kind of girl.

So what to do?

Rather than feeling the need to invest in a ton of fancy clothes, I took it as a challenge to do Vegas in an Unfancy way — to bring my style to Vegas, instead of the other way around.

(Read the whole post here).

Up until that point, I’d been thinking it would look cool to wear a motorcycle jacket, specifically this one:


Image via Madewell

Even though I think motorcycle jackets can be styled up or down and across many age ranges, I finally admitted that they’re just not me. $498 saved.

Other things I realized that are Just Not Me:

  • Almost every vest I’ve ever seen
  • Linen anything, but especially pants
  • Jean jackets
  • White shoes
  • Boy shorts (swimsuit version)
  • Baseball hats
  • Over-the-knee boots
  • Heavy earrings
  • Ankle bracelets (Ick)
  • Toe rings (see above re: Ick)
  • Sparkly flip-flops
  • Chinos
  • Overalls
  • Most capri pants, especially wide-leg ones

I haven’t made my final packing list, but doing Vegas my way feels so much better than forcing a look that’s Not Me, just because it seems like What People Would Wear in Vegas.

But deep down (ok, superficially) I still want to look cool and not like I’m trying too hard, or dressing either too old or too young (both sins). I think the key here is to keep it simple, non-peacock for sure, but also in tested things that I know I will feel good wearing.

And the terrific news is that if I miss the mark with what I pack, there’s a lot of great shopping to be had in Vegas.